The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More

Friday, August 19, 2016


Okay, just to get it out of the way and beat all you internet funny folks to the punch, I'll admit it.  I'm the "ugly" one in this trio of words, despite the fact this monstrous fish had a mean-mugging face only a mother could love.  To me he was absolutely beautiful and a fine specimen of all things piscatorial.

Our chance meeting started out innocently enough and his kind was not my intended target.  I'd taken my daughter, Ashley, and her boyfriend, Jake, to a nearby reservoir for an early morning trip to chase channel catfish on a chum hole.  It was beautiful as we launched at first light and we were only a few minutes in when I caught a fat 3 1/2 pounder and tossed him in the cooler.  A short time later I felt a similar "whack" and set the hook again.

This time my rod immediately went double and under the boat and the drag screamed.  I was using a 6'6" medium-light spinning rod with a reel spooled with Berkley Trilene Big Game 15 pound test monofilament.  All of the components were taxed to the max.

I wondered aloud what I might have and figured it was a giant carp or huge blue catfish.  The battle lasted for nearly 15 minutes and I'd try to get some line back one reel turn or two at a time.  Slowly, I started to win the fight and eventually ended up swapping ends of the boat as the fish dictated the game.  

At first glimpse I saw yellow and thought I'd hooked a big carp.  But a second brief look showed a unique tail that could only belong to a flathead catfish.  When we all got a good look at the huge fish, Ashley quickly handed the net to Jake.

"I'm out!!!!" she laughed.  "That thing is huuuuugggeeeee!!!

Jake took one stab at him and the big cat soaked us with a flick of his paddle-like tail and dove back down.  The next time up Jake was able to maneuver the fish's head into the net and we hoisted him into the boat and gently placed him on the front deck.  Ashley and Jake were WAY more excited than I and marveled at the massiveness of this unique predator of the deep.  Their reaction, and the fact I even landed this fish, was the "good" part of the equation for sure.  

The "bad" part of the experience was the huge flathead was foul hooked, but just barely, and legally had to be released.  One barb on a #4 treble hook was buried in his flesh just in front of his tail fin.  It was a miracle I even landed the fish and I was shocked.  Even if the fish had been hooked legally there's a good chance I would have released it anyway, although one that size would have fed the entire office staff at work.        

We tried to weigh it but my digital scale only goes to 30 pounds and he maxed it out.  I guessed his heft at about 45 pounds but had friends with more experience with flatheads than I said he looked bigger in the photos.  Regardless, it was one of the biggest fish I'd ever caught in my life and a true giant.  

After a few photos and more hooping and hollering, mostly by Ashley and Jake, I eased the fish back over the gunnel of the boat and held it in the water for a few minutes.  It got its bearings and swam from my hand back to the depths from which it came.

"If we don't catch another fish all day this is the best fishing trip of my life," Jake said laughing.  "And I didn't even catch it!"

But we did catch more fish and a boatload of them ranging in size from 6 inches up to an 8 1/2 pound channel catfish Jake caught.  It was truly a memorable morning but the only catch of the day that will be talked about forever is that gigantic flathead.  

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